“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” — Theodore Roosevelt, January 1900
Introduced to The Walking Dead universe in the fourth episode of the sixth season, “Here’s Not Here,” perhaps no weapon — outside of Negan’s baseball bat, Lucille — has had a bigger impact on the series than a wooden stick wielded by Lennie James’ Morgan Jones through three seasons of The Walking Dead and two seasons of Fear the Walking Dead. Also known as a bō stick or a quarterstaff, this wooden stick was a gift to Morgan from a man named Eastman, a believer in The Art of Peace and a practitioner of the art of aikido.
That wooden stick has saved Morgan’s life in more ways than one, both mentally and physically. With it, Morgan has dispatched hundreds of walkers; he’s neutralized scores of enemies; he once famously tripped Nick with it; he whooped Jesus’ ass with it; he neglected to kill Wolves with it, which came back to haunt him; and he’s even used it to aid him as he walked, including the time he walked from Virginia to Texas.
That wooden stick has defined Morgan as much as Lucille defined Negan; as much as the crossbow defines Daryl; and as much as the Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver has defined Rick Grimes. The wooden stick, in so many ways, is an extension of Morgan’s personality, which itself mirrors the ideology of Theodore Roosevelt’s Big Stick diplomacy: Negotiate peacefully, but maintain the ability to show strength. The stick has gotten Morgan out of scores of jams, but it’s also emotionally centered him, a quiet force against Morgan’s PTSD. It’s a quiet killer, but also a crutch.